Have you ever lived through a hurricane? I haven’t, but I moved to Florida not long after a series of devastating hurricanes. When the next one was predicted, people panicked. They hurried to the shops. They queued at petrol stations to fill up their vehicles. They bought water and toilet paper and canned goods and pasta and rice. They were prepared for weeks without shops, electricity and petrol.
The last few days have felt eerily similar to hurricane preparations. People are buying up food and toilet paper as if a hurricane is forecast. The big difference is that when a hurricane is forecast, we start with a general sense of its direction. There are several paths predicted. And if you live in one of those paths you hope it will veer in another direction. As the storm draws closer the predictions of its path get clearer. People then rush to the shops and prepare for the aftermath. Or they evacuate and long queues of traffic develop out of the area!
It feels as if a storm is on its ways. So we have run to the shops. We have filled up our vehicles with fuel. There are all kind of plans in place for support. People are being very creative in finding ways of working and supporting people. Still we wait. We do not know where or when Covid-19 is going to strike in our community, in our family, in our church. We know it is coming, but we can’t see it. The unknown generates a sense of fear in some of us. Others of us carry on as normal, not thinking about it at all, except for the fact we can’t see friends and family in the same way. Some of us still go out as if nothing is changing.
But things are changing. We need to think about our safety and the safety of others. This isn’t a hurricane. It isn’t going to blow through in a few hours, leaving us to pick up the pieces. We have to learn how to live in new ways, relate using the gift of technology. We have to take the orders to isolate seriously. We have to protect ourselves, and we have to protect others.
And we have to remember that whether we gather together in a church building, which we can’t do for the time being, or whether we speak on the phone or over Skype or text, we are connected by the One who is love. We may feel vulnerable in this time of uncertainty, but we are never alone. Our connection remains to each other and to God.
Though we are scattered, Lord, you keep us connected.
Though we feel alone, Lord, you united us.
Though we are afraid, Lord, you promise us peace.
On this day and in the days ahead, help us find ways to connect, to love, and to grow in our relationships with those we meet at a distance or virtually. May all our spaces of connection be holy ground. Amen.